See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Economics

The trade saga continues between the US and China

Despite an earlier trade agreement between the United States and China, the trade relationship remains fragile between the world’s two largest economies.


Written by

Updated: June 4, 2018

The US and China reached an agreement in mid-May that many pundits said had averted a trade war.

A delegation led by Vice-Premier Liu He had “positive, pragmatic, constructive and fruitful” with a US team headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin which resulted in a joint statement vowing not to be bogged down in a trade war.

China also promised to buy more US goods if the US would halt its tariffs program.

The deal was hailed by pundits and by sectors hit by reciprocal tariffs as cooler heads prevailing and normalcy resuming.

Just weeks prior China had imposed levies on $3 billion worth of US fruits, nuts, pork and wine to protest the Trump administration’s move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imported from China.

Not quite back to square one

Now, as the two sides sit down to negotiate the deals that would take place across the numerous sectors where the US accuses China of unfair trade practices, more roadblocks have appeared.

In response, China has warned that agreements to buy more American goods will be void if Washington goes ahead with sanctions and other punitive trade actions, according to the Straits Times.

Beijing’s stance, spelt out on Sunday (June 3), came after US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He concluded two days of talks on trade issues here that were overshadowed by the renewed threat of tariffs announced by the White House last week.

In a surprise move, the White House said it would proceed with imposing tariffs on US$50 billion (S$66.9 billion) worth of imported Chinese goods, with the final list to be announced on June 15.

The White House also said it will pursue tighter restrictions on Chinese investments and enhance export controls to protect US technology and intellectual property.

No allies

The United States has also said it would look into tariffs against longtime allies like Canada and countries within the EU.

While the Chinese have said they would not pursue a trade war, Emmanuel Macron of France and Justin Trudeau of Canada explicitly said that the Trump’s administration on tariffs would force both those countries into an all-sides-lose trade war.

The actions of the US have resulted in severe isolation in the G7 meeting in British Columbia, Canada on Friday.

Group of Seven finance ministers ended their annual meeting on Saturday with US allies united in condemning Washington’s protectionism, calling on President Donald Trump to reverse his decision to impose punishing metal tariffs, according to the China Daily.

Announcing the meeting’s close, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the host government and five others had urged Mnuchin to relay their “unanimous concern and disappointment”.

“We said that we were collectively hoping that he would bring the message back of regret and disappointment at the American actions and concern that they are not constructive,” said Morneau.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire also expressed France’s outrage as the meetings ended.

“I want to make it clear,” Le Maire said, “that it is up to the US administration to make the right decisions to alleviate the situation and ease the difficulties.”

Avoiding trade war “will depend on the decision the (US) administration is ready to take in the next few days and in the next few hours – -I’m not talking about weeks ahead,” he added.

Chinese Response

China has tried to remain cordial as it tries to negotiate the different personalities that the Trump administration can assume.

An official Chinese statement issued after the latest round of talks said that China and the United States achieved positive and concrete progress in the fields of agriculture and energy during the latest round of trade consultations.

But as the Straits Times reported, Chinese media reports framed the lack of concrete outcomes in the latest round of talks with the United States as Beijing’s way of driving home the point that no substantial discussions can take place when the threat of tariffs looms large.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Economics

Premier Li announces slew of measures to fight virus in a top-level meeting

Premier Li Keqiang presided over the meeting of the leading group of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on coping with the novel coronavirus, a pneumonia-causing virus, in Beijing. Li is head of the group. China will adopt a host of measures including delaying and reducing conferences and major events, extending the Spring Festival holiday and supporting work online to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to a decision released at a high-level meeting on Sunday. Premier Li Keqiang presided over the meeting of the leading group of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on coping with the novel coronavirus, a pneumonia-causing virus, in Beijing. Li is head of the group. The group was established after a meeting of the St


By China Daily
January 27, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Wuhan virus: China locks down five cities at epicentre of outbreak

Move to curb virus’ spread across world comes as experts race to crack its code. China has taken the unprecedented move of locking down cities at the heart of a new Sars-like outbreak that has spread swiftly across provinces and the world, killing at least 17 and infecting more than 630. In a dramatic effort to curb the sweep of the mutating virus, officials in Wuhan announced at midnight on Wednesday that the city, where the mystery coronavirus originated last month in a wet market that sold live animals, was being sealed off. Last night, the authorities in the surrounding cities of Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi and Xiantao in the same Hubei province in central China also imposed travel restrictions. The toughest measures were taken in Huanggang, where


By The Straits Times
January 24, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

New coronavirus cases rise to 571 in Chinese mainland

China’s National Health Commission said cases of the new coronavirus pneumonia disease rose to 571 on the Chinese mainland as of Wednesday midnight, including 95 in critical condition, and fatalities rose to 17,  on Thursday morning. Latest on pneumonia epidemic: Cases of the new coronavirus pneumonia disease rose to 571 on the Chinese mainland as of Wednesday midnight, including 95 in critical condition, and fatalities rose to 17, China’s National Health Commission said on Thursday morning. In addition, 393 suspected cases were reported as of Wednesday midnight. All the reported deaths were in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak. Outside the mainland, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan each confirmed one case.


By China Daily
January 23, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Strictest measures enacted to contain viral pneumonia in China

As the pathogen continues to spread, the strictest prevention and control measures are being adopted by the Chinese health authorities for the new strain of coronavirus that has caused a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan. Chinese health authorities are adopting the strictest prevention and control measures for the new strain of coronavirus that has caused a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province, as the pathogen continues to spread. On Monday, 77 new confirmed cases of the virus — 2019-nCoV — were reported on the Chinese mainland, bringing the total number of confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland to 291, six of whom died, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday afternoon. Among the new cases, 72 were reported in Hubei province, two in Shanghai a


By China Daily
January 22, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Wuhan virus: China confirms human-to-human transmission, says medical workers infected

China’s health commission said on Monday (Jan 20)  that medical workers have been infected by the deadly coronavirus first discovered in the central city of Wuhan, confirming it can be transmitted between people. “The current situation is that it is no longer animal to human transmission, but human to human,” said Chinese pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan, who discovered the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) coronavirus in 2003 and now heads an expert panel under the health commission. He cited a case in Guangdong, where the patient had not been to Wuhan but caught the virus from a family member. Dr Zhong also said 14 medical personnel helping with coronavirus patients have been infected by one carrier. “The key to controlling the spread o


By The Straits Times
January 21, 2020

Diplomacy, Economics

Trump invites Asean leaders, including Duterte, to summit in US

Donald Trump, the US President has invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other leaders of the Asean to a summit to be held in Las Vegas in March. US President Donald Trump has invited Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to a summit to be held in Las Vegas in March. “The invitation was first conveyed during the Asean-US meeting at the Asean Summit and related summits in Bangkok last November. The United States then reiterated its invitation through a letter dated Jan. 9, 2020,”the Palace said. The Palace also released a copy of Trump’s letter to the Asean leaders dated Nov. 1, given during last year’s Asean summit in Bangkok. “I would also like


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
January 20, 2020